Global forum addresses water, nutrient management topics this week

· 4 min read

Global forum addresses water, nutrient management topics this week

Platte River at sunset.
Craig Chandler | University Communication

The third week of the Water for Food Global Forum, taking place Oct. 18-22, will focus on water quality and nutrient management.

The forum, a monthlong virtual event bringing together international experts, growers and organizations, is tackling issues related to global water and food security by integrating knowledge and practice.

Hosted through October by the Water for Food Global Institute at the University of Nebraska, the forum offers both on-demand and live discussions, presentations, workshops and case studies. It provides an opportunity for individuals with diverse expertise and interests to learn about, collaborate on and strategize solutions to pressing issues regarding water and food, including those exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. All sessions are free and open to the public after registering.

In its third week, the forum will facilitate discussions on the economic and human health costs of nitrate pollution; the investigation of pollution from an ethanol plant in Mead, Nebraska; accelerating innovation through collective action; and solutions centered on wastewater and its reuse.

Live sessions this week

The True Cost of Nitrate Discussion | Oct. 21, 9-10 a.m.

This session is a live Q&A featuring the panelists from the on-demand “True Cost of Nitrate” session, which describes the economic ramifications of nitrate contamination — removal costs, lost recreation benefits and healthcare costs — as well as financial repercussions of nitrate inefficiency. Audience members will have the opportunity to ask panelists about the economic burden associated with nitrate contamination.

Moderator — Crystal Powers, research and extension communications specialist, Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute, Nebraska Water Center

Speakers — Mike Archer, Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy; Don Coulter, DWFI faculty fellow, professor, Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, University of Nebraska Medical Center, and pediatric oncologist, Children’s Hospital and Medical Center; Sydney Evans, science analyst, Environmental Working Group; Patricio Grassini, associate professor, Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, University of Nebraska–Lincoln; Paul Mathewson, staff scientist, Clean Wisconsin; Keith Miller, civil engineer, City of Hastings Utilities

Collaboration in Action: Bazile Groundwater Management Project | Oct. 21, 10-11 a.m.

In northeast Nebraska, a coalition of local, state, tribal and federal agencies have come together to conduct research and outreach to address rising nitrate levels in groundwater. This session will outline how the group came together, what research and outreach is being conducted, and the potential impacts of those efforts.

Speakers — Jeremy Milander, assistant extension educator, Bazile Groundwater Management Area, University of Nebraska–Lincoln; Crystal Powers, research and extension communications specialist, Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute, Nebraska Water Center; Chris Proctor, associate extension educator, Department of Agronomy, University of Nebraska–Lincoln; Amy Timmerman, extension educator, Water and Integrated Cropping Systems, University of Nebraska–Lincoln

Investigating Pollution from the AltEn Ethanol Plant in Mead, Nebraska: A Live Q+A with the Research Team | Oct. 21, 1-2 p.m.

Outside of Mead, Nebraska, an ethanol plant used pesticide-treated seed corn for production. After processing the corn into ethanol, the pesticide byproduct was stored on site and applied to land in the surrounding area. There is now pending legal litigation by the State of Nebraska for failure to properly dispose of pesticide-contaminated byproduct on the plant’s property. University of Nebraska scientists are investigating the extent of contamination from the plant’s byproduct, as well as potential human health impacts of the contamination.

This event features the team of investigators exploring contamination of water, soil and air from the AltEn ethanol plant. The session will provide a brief synopsis of the events that lead to this scientific investigation, followed by a Q&A with the investigators.

Moderator — Jesse Bell, director of water, climate and health, Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute; Claire M. Hubbard Professor of Health and Environment, Department of Environmental, Agricultural and Occupational Health, College of Public Health, University of Nebraska Medical Center

Speakers — Shannon Bartelt-Hunt, DWFI faculty fellow, professor, department chair and Donald R. Voelte, Jr. and Nancy A. Keegan Chair of Engineering and Professor, University of Nebraska–Lincoln; Ali Khan, dean, College of Public Health, professor, Department of Epidemiology, University of Nebraska Medical Center; Eleanor Rogan, DWFI faculty fellow, professor and chair, Department of Environmental, Agricultural and Occupational Health, UNMC Eppley Institute for Research in Cancer and Allied Diseases; public and environmental health expert, University of Nebraska Medical Center; Dan Snow, director, Water Sciences Laboratory, University of Nebraska–Lincoln; Liz VanWormer, DWFI faculty fellow; assistant professor of practice and One Health coordinator, School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska–Lincoln; and Judy Wu Smart, extension and research entomologist, University of Nebraska–Lincoln

On-demand sessions this week include:

  • The True Cost of Nitrate Presentations
  • Nitrate in Drinking Water: A Public Health Perspective
  • Trends in Drinking Water Nitrate
  • Accelerating Innovation through Collective Action
  • Water Reuse in Food Systems: The Roadmap for Implementation

Next week, the forum closes with the theme “Climate Change and Extreme Events.”

The full agenda and additional speaker information is available at

Recent News